Published: Friday, 27 March 2015

Dongfeng Race Team have managed to gain 24 miles in 3 hours with a little luck and a lot of effort. The team are once again back in first place. Keeping furthest south – on the edge of the ice limit – has paid off. Whether it will keep on paying dividends is anyone’s guess.  

Dongfeng Back In The Lead In Volvo Ocean Race

(Photo by Yann Riou / Dongfeng Race Team)

Five of the six boats are bunched up within 7 nautical miles (nm) and Dongfeng's lead is still paper-thin in relative terms over the course of a 6,777nm three-week leg from New Zealand to the southeast Brazilian port city of Itajaí.

Dongfeng Back In The Lead In Volvo Ocean Race 1

(Photo by Yann Riou / Dongfeng Race Team)

The fleet still has the notorious Cape Horn to negotiate, probably towards the end of the coming weekend and then the south Atlantic in the run-in to Brazil next week.

Dongfeng Back In The Lead In Volvo Ocean Race 2

(Photo by Stefan Coppers / Team Brunel) 

With the Chinese guys having never sailed in more than 30 knots of wind, Skipper Charles Caudrelier has had to find the right balance between performance and safety. The team have received encouraging emails and comments on social media, but they have also received some more realistic ones such as, You guys are great in light winds but this is not your leg." 

Dongfeng Back In The Lead In Volvo Ocean Race 3

(Photo by Matt Knighton / Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing)

There’s no disputing Caudrelier and his team have done well so far – four legs and four podiums. The compromise on race performance is more exposed on this leg with the crew set-up of Chinese rookies and western professional sailors, but the determined men of Dongfeng keep fighting.

Dongfeng were as far as they could be from civilisation on Wednesday night, Mar 25. Thursday marks the halfway point of the Volvo Ocean Race and on Sunday the leaders are expected to round Cape Horn.

“The atmosphere onboard is excellent, but it will be even better once Cape Horn is behind us,” says Dongfeng’s onboard reporter, Yann Riou.

They are currently expected to arrive around Apr 4.